This week I have been on a bus trip (organised by the inestimable PatientGardener) in the company of various eminent bloggers and paid up members of the Twitterati – I know this visit has already been covered succinctly and stylishly by others including the eminent VP and the hand washable Sock (i) but, I want to chip in as well so please bear with me a moment.
It was a very jolly day involving sunshine, chatter and Prince Charles’s garden at Highgrove. We are not really supposed to write about the garden without running things past the press office at Clarence House but I am assuming that mostly refers to newspapers and magazines rather than modestly proportioned and unassuming blogs like this one. If however, I am wrong and I am then dragged screaming off to the basement of St James’ Palace for a thorough kicking them please campaign for my early release.
First stop was the pretty town of Tetbury (where, incidentally, I lost a significant part of my innocence many years ago) where we had to meet up and get on a bus – except Ann-Marie Powell who, since she got a Chelsea Gold Medal, has changed a lot. No longer is she prepared to travel on mass transit but only at the wheel of her personal limousine. She has also stopped showing her knickers to policemen so every cloud has a silver lining. Here are two of our number, Dawn and Lia, drinking neat vodka from tea cups.
The garden: if the truth be told it is very much a curate’s egg of a garden in that parts of it are fine but most of it is a bit of a hodge podge.
There are some very beautiful and unusual trees (some a bit plonky in their positioning): HRH has a national collection of Beech (ii) some o. There are some very handsome green oak temples designed by Julian and Isabel Bannerman. The stumpery is interestingly gnarly. There is a staggeringly lovely Apple arch in the kitchen garden. There are some perfect gates: one pair with a heavy bronze latch of sexy design and divine construction. The cakes were varied and delicious. The souvenir fudge was exceptional (iii).
Admittedly, as our excellent and tolerant guide explained, the Prince of Wales suffers from the rather unique problem of people endlessly giving him things for the garden. For example, New Zealand gives him sixty tree ferns for his birthday so he and his head gardener scratch their heads at think “Blimey, where the hell are we going to put this lot”. Because he is the Prince of Wales and cannot really leave them behind the shed to quietly die of neglect: as most people do with unwanted garden gifts (iv) so a new garden is created. This garden looks uncomfortable, out of place and, to be honest, a bit ridiculous. Lovely plants: badly sited. Pity.
This giftism is not confined to plants: the place is littered with garden ornaments. Clusters of terracotta pots, twee wooden mushrooms and endless bits of stone (some of which are charming, others would be better as hardcore under the M1 widening scheme at Junction 10).
The other problem with this garden is the urge to cram more things than are necessary into each area; a tree house is sited far too close to a ferny pyramid. The terrace by the house has two charming little pavilions but they are now squeezed next to a vast amorphous shelter cum pagoda cum thing to replace a cedar tree. Olive trees are shoehorned in unnecessarily and Indian gates lead from a Chinese building.
It is disjointed. In my opinion this is a bit of an error but, it is his private garden and it is entirely his choice to crowd all kinds of everything into the garden and if it gives him joy then whoopsie-doo and all power to the royal elbow.
However, when I become King (and it can only be a matter of time) I will have another garden, away from my house, where I will plant all the diplomatic gifts and things while keeping my own garden simpler and untroubled by unwanted offerings kindly delivered by Emissaries from the Pasha of Ruhabat.(v). I also would deny entry to the general public and inaugurate a number of sensible laws – see footnote (iii) for a start.
Sadly photography was also banned so I cannot show you anything except this: which is, I think you will agree, one of the finest sights known to man. Pish to the pyramids. Phooey to the Lighthouse of Alexandria. Bleaghhh to the Koh-i-noor diamond and I spurn the irresistible advances of the whirling houris of Circassia.
A personally engraved cupcake.
A cupcake baked by the unutterably gorgeous MsB (or Lazy Trollop if you prefer). A cupcake adorned not with green roses – as some people thought -but perfectly formed cabbages. It was both an aesthetic marvel and a taste sensation.
I am listening to Seasick Steve singing Salem Blues.
The picture is of Dahlia Chat Noir. I have six but only one of them has even considered flowering so far. Lots of buds but not much else. The Morning Glories are the same.
- The Sock was wearing a naked Chris Beardshaw on her lapel. It was not there at the end of the trip. Visit her blog for at least part of the story.
- He also has the National Collection of large leaved Hostas. Somebody has to, I suppose.
- One of the worst things that anybody can do is make fudge that is soft and chewey: the worst culprit used to be the Woolworth’s Pick ‘n Mix fudge but the National Trust (and innumerable similar gift shops) are equally to blame. Fudge should be hard and a bit crumbly. Also fudge should never be fruit flavoured and I reserve particular scorn for Rum ‘n Raisin.
- The notable exception is the fabulous Amanda rom Kiss My aster who has a more dramatic way to get rid of unwanted plants.
- A town in Turkmenistan. It may or may not have a Pasha. If it doesn’t it jolly well should do; as should Peterborough and Nome.